Are Aftermarket Insoles Worth It?
Long term readers of 100wears know that I injured my foot back in 2021 when running in overly soft shoes. I don’t talk about it too much since my personal injuries shouldn’t really impact reviews of sneakers that didn’t cause it, but let me tell you – as someone who is breaking in a new pair of shoes nearly every week it’s a real pain in the arch.
However, a few weeks back, Currex reached out and asked if I had any interest in trying out a pair of their insoles. There were no requirements – no agreement to post a review, payment, etc. They told me that their founder injured his foot when running in a similar way to the way I did, and that he designed his insoles specifically to help prevent that from happening.
Why had I not seriously tried insoles before? Well, I had a few questions that I wasn’t sure about. After wearing these for a while, I wanted to provide answers for those of you who might be interested in getting your own pair. This article is going to touch on a few of them.
- Do insoles change the fit of your shoe?
- Do insoles work in dress shoes, boots, and sneakers?
- Do insoles actually change the way your feet feel?
- Are insoles better than opting for supportive shoes?
- Will I keep using insoles after this review?
Disclaimer: Currex provided this pair for me to check out, but there was no requirement for a review. Specifically, I received the SupportSTP Insoles. This is not a sponsored post, and the information below is a true statement of my belief of their insoles. Further, the goal of this is to cover higher-end insoles in general rather than this one specific brand.
This actually isn’t the first time I’ve tried to write this article. I’ve tried other insoles in the past and found that they were either so soft as to not be worth considering, or custom made by a podiatrist. If you’re at the point where a foot doctor is giving you a recommendation, you’re past listening to strangers on the internet.
The Currex insole seems to be a good mix of both. The offer a good amount of customization based on how you stand and the height of your arches, but are not so customizable that they only fit you (read: they are not $200).
I also really like the mixture of materials. In my experience, other insoles are either almost exclusively soft foam, or almost exclusively a hard plate. While I have not tried all of their offerings, Currex seems to do a great blend of a hard plate under your arch, but softer materials elsewhere.
I also appreciate that, even on their own site, they include negative reviews they’ve received. That is surprisingly rare.
Again, this is not a sponsored review. My goal here is to provide information that is true for any form of drop in insole, however if you’re seriously considering investing in a pair, I’d definitely suggest taking a look at Currex.
Do insoles change the fit of your shoe?
While this might seem obvious, yes, insoles change the fit of your shoe. Exactly how much depends on what type of insole you pick, and if you can remove an existing insole, but expect to lose anywhere from a quarter to a half size. Insoles may also change the overall drop – or height difference between the heel and ball of a shoe.
If you have a pair of shoes that fits you perfectly, adding a pair of insoles might mess that up. On the other hand, if you have a pair of shoes that is slightly too large, they might help take up a bit of extra volume.
Do insoles work in dress shoes, boots, and sneakers?
The type of shoe you wear has a big impact on how insoles impact the feel – or if they even fit at all.
Dress shoes are really the simplest of them all. Insoles definitely work in most dress shoes, easily dropping in and they tend to fit well out of the box. At least, after you cut them to shape. I tried mine on a pair of Alden Longwings that were slightly too big after breaking them in, and it was great. They did exactly what I was hoping they would do – give a bit more arch support and take up a bit of volume.
Most insoles were designed for sneakers, so it works in almost all of the different sneakers I tried – everything from Jordan 1s to running shoes. The Jordan 1 was actually the other shoe I was really interested in. I love the design but as anyone can yell you there is exactly zero support in them. As a guy in my 30’s, they simply are not wearable if I’m walking around all day. There is one asterisk on sneakers though – I found a few that had non-removeable sculped insoles in them that just didn’t work with drop in options.
That isn’t to say the ones they come with were better, but if your sneaker already has a sculpted footbed, you might be out of luck.
Speaking of a sculpted footbed, there is one area that I found didn’t work with the insoles. That is boots. Or, more specifically, boots such as White’s and Nick’s that already have a built-up arch. Adding a plate on top of that made the boots completely unwearable. Probably not unexpected given the boot’s shape, but still worth mentioning. More common cemented boots would likely be more like the sneakers.
Do insoles actually change the way your feet feel?
Yes! At least the good insoles do.
Once you take out the footwear that just doesn’t work with insoles, they provide a lot more support. I will say, they might offer a bit of discomfort on the first day after you’ve worn them for a few hours as it does change the way you move your foot. However, assuming you’ve sized correctly, that should resolve itself with time.
Are insoles better than opting for supportive shoes?
This question is really more aimed at the work boot question. From a pure comfort perspective, it something like an insole in a less built-up boot better than something with a higher arch built in from the start?
It’s a bit more difficult than a yes or no.
On the side of the insoles are several benefits. First is cost. While quality drop in insoles are not cheap, they are no where near the $600+ that many built up boots run. Plus, they can move from your work boots to your running shoes as needed.
Next is customization. A high arch last can only be modified so much, where as something like the Currex line has multiple different profiles, spread out over 12 different designs, each available in multiple sizes. You’re simply more likely to find something that fits you specifically.
Finally, is the risk. If you make a mistake on what you think you like as far as arch support goes, you’re out 1/10th the cost.
On the other hand, a well-built boot offers other benefits. The biggest is allowing the boot to conform to your foot. While heavy and expensive, leather footbeds will conform to your exact foot over time. If you’re already close, it’s entirely possible a boot could become perfect. A foam and plastic insole simply can’t do that.
Another benefit of the boots is simplicity. No need to figure out what pair your insole is in, or figuring out how to cut your pair when your boot as a big round toe and your sneakers have something more pointed. You just throw them on and go.
Ultimately, it’s really up to the individual to decide on this one.
Will I keep using insoles?
Here’s the big question – will I continue to use the insoles now that I’ve done my test.
The answer is a definite yes. I’m not sure if I’m going to move them from pair to pair every day – as a shoe reviewer that simply isn’t very practical. However, I found that I’m really enjoying them in retro sneakers. Jordan 1s, New Balance 550s, Nike Dunks, etc. are just no where near as comfortable as the other stuff in my closet and having a way to make them more wearable is extremely appreciated.